Yet Another Year

“New year, new me,” in my eyes, is pretty out of style. I don’t reckon another trip around the sun for the Earth means I ought to change too much. Adopting healthier habits is always something to strive for, but I often question the notion of, “one more binge of Taco Bell and then I’ll start eating salads on Monday/tomorrow/next month.” The “why do today what you can put off until tomorrow” mindset is unhealthy for people like me who struggle to get started. Furthermore, binging on whatever vices you have (overeating, oversleeping, procrastinating, drinking, smoking) “one last time” before putting yourself into a self-organised rehabilitation is never the right way to go. At least, for people like me.

Or for people like my mother, who comes home with a bag of fast food and immediately justifies herself, unprompted, by telling me, who never even looked up to see she’d brought food home, that “it’s just one last time. I’m back on my diet tomorrow.” These claims are the hallmark of weakness. That is to say, yes, I am weak to things I find pleasure in. Spending money on Chipotle deliveries “one last time” before I vow to hit the gym; spending all day in my bed in sheets I haven’t washed in two months telling myself that tomorrow will be different when I know it won’t be.

Making grandiose goals like the ones I see from my peers on social media that most likely won’t be met is, in my eyes, unhealthy. Not just for the body, but for the mind. Every time I make goals like this, I know I’m setting myself up for failure. Which in itself is a very unhealthy mindset. I’m not blind to this.

That all being said, there are lots of people who have a stronger will than me, who achieve and surpass goals they set for themselves. That’s great! And there are people who set small goals and feel very good when they meet them, and they reward themselves for even small milestones; in some cases, those “small” milestones are actually huge. And that’s great! I’m very happy for those people. It just so happens that I am not one of those people.

I am a person who has to work very, very hard to get the ball rolling. Once the ball gets rolling for me, though, I am different than some others in that it is not hard for me to keep it going. An object in motion stays in motion. That’s a law I live by. The problem is getting moving.

All that being said, I’m not setting any big goals for myself. I’m setting very small, very doable goals. Getting up at a certain time. Taking a shower. And, yes, going to the gym. I know from experience that once I’m at the gym, I feel great. Getting there is the problem. But we’ll work on it.

This is a sort of blabbering post, just a run-on thought that I thought I’d post because I’ve been absent for a good while. I have a lot to tell you guys, and I will, in the coming days. (More goals!)

Until then, I’ll leave it here. Happy New Year.

Sam, signing off.

Life Update

I come bearing gifts of both good news, and not so good news. Let’s start off with a recap of my Spring break.

As I believe I mentioned a while back, I was referred to a psychiatrist by my family physician on account of my OCD behaviours and some other things. At my appointment, which spanned almost two hours, I was officially diagnosed with severe OCD due to my trichotillomania and dermatillomania, as well as my stimming in my hands and face. I consider this to be good news, as my medication has been doubled and I now have a basis from which to work forward from.

The not-so-good news is I’ve also been placed under a sort of “watch” for potential schizophrenic and/or bipolar delusions, hallucinations, and mood swings.

Being told that I may be schizophrenic was a shake-up, to put it lightly.

The thing that’s keeping me from freaking out entirely is the fact that I’ve gone this long seeing things that aren’t there, and I know they’re not there. Shadows in my periphery of animals and people that wander in and out of my line of sight are nothing new to me. I would be in hysterics when I was younger because I was thoroughly convinced that there were rats in my room, but over the years I’ve learned to ignore what I see. From this, I’ve decided that my case isn’t that bad. I’m always paranoid, but it’s not bad enough that my quality of life is really affected apart from the occasional spook when I think there is wildlife in my room, or when there’s a shadow in the corner by my closet when I wake up in the morning. I’m not going to fly off the handle and start killing people. I don’t have voices telling me what to do apart from the regular running commentary that I’m pretty sure everyone has. So that’s not terrible. I’ll get more concrete information and perhaps a diagnosis when I revisit my therapist in the summer.

So there’s that. Onto the great news.

I don’t know if I’ve written about this yet, and I can’t be fucked to go back and check, but I was granted a financial award to attend the American Musical Instrument Society conference which spans over four days this coming May. The award pays for my flight, ticket to the conference, and hotel while I’ll be in Pennsylvania where the conference is located. This is huge news. My first accomplishment in the field of organology; I believe only nine or ten students from around the world were granted an award, so this is a rather big deal. I can’t put into words my excitement.

That’s all for now. Just thought I’d share what’s up. It’s five in the morning, I haven’t slept, and I need to do homework. I’ll check in again at a later date. Until then.

Sam, signing off.


It’s been an eventful week.

Over Winter break, my family doctor referred me to a psychiatrist for various reasons. My appointment with the psychiatrist was last Friday.

I officially have a diagnoses for severe OCD, which accounts for the (now officially diagnosed) trichotillomania and dermatillomania I’ve suffered from since childhood, in addition to the facial ticks and repetitive hand motions. This diagnosis does not fix anything. It is not a resolution; but it is a step in the right direction. The medication I take for my depression is also used to treat OCD, so they’ve doubled my dosage in an attempt to get my hair-pulling and skin-picking under control. I’ve mutilated my fingers to the point where I have to wear band-aids; not because I want to, but because I’m afraid people will see and be put off by all of the blood and scabs and inflammation around my chewed-off fingernails. I’m having to style my hair a certain way every day to cover a bare spot that’s just getting bigger from my hair-pulling. I’m considering getting an eyebrow pencil, too.

On the heels of this diagnosis, I’ve scheduled a follow up appointment with the psychiatrist, and an appointment with a behavioural therapist immediately after I return home for the summer. In the meantime, I’ll be taking my medicine and doing my best to distract myself from this nonsense with my Rubik’s Cube and my tangle toy.

The trip to the psychiatrist uncovered something I hadn’t really expected at all; they’re keeping an eye on me for schizophrenic and/or bipolar delusions, hallucinations, and manic episodes.

I haven’t ever discussed what I see with anyone. I haven’t even mentioned it on this blog before. But now that it’s out in the open, I feel like I should share it here. Since I was small, I’ve seen things. Almost never head-on; it’s almost always in my periphery, on the ground, or to my side, or above me. I remember having an imaginary friend I couldn’t see if I looked right at him. He was a shadow that lived on the wall next to my bed. I remember being in hysterics in the doorway of my bedroom when I was little because I saw rats on the floor, even though there weren’t any there. I still see these “rats” or “snakes” all the time. Or I’ll see that someone is walking next to me, but when I turn there will be no one in the hallway. And it’s not shadows, or my hair, or a trick of the light. I see things. I’ve never told anyone because when I did when I was younger, my parents told me there was nothing there and to go to bed. Over time, I got used to it, and knew that there wasn’t anything there. It gives me a spook every now and then, but that’s it.

It’s scary, though. I’m nervous, because I feel like I was the completely normal, totally fine kid for the longest time. I’m twenty-one years old, and all of this is just coming out now? I’m afraid people won’t believe me. I feel like I should have told someone about this before now. I’m afraid I won’t be taken seriously.

Then again, I told my father after my appointment, and he said he’s always had the exact same thing, and he’s never told anyone about it. I don’t know what to think.

That’s all for the time being. Just keeping you lot updated on the insanity that is my life. There’s a lot more that led to the potential schizophrenic/bipolar informal diagnosis by the psychiatrist, but I’m fatigued and done typing for right now. I’ll fill you in later.

Sam, signing off.

Non-Practising Catholic

I was raised Lutheran.

Every Sunday, I’d be woken up at four in the morning to go with my mother and the eldest of my two brothers to go and deliver the morning paper, and then I would be dragged to church, where both of us kids would be nodding off during the lengthy sermons. We’d indulge in the after-service reception donuts (despite the fact that the tasteless cake donuts and black coffee catered to the adults in the congregation), and be shooed away to Sunday School, where none of the kids wanted to be, learning about the Holy Trinity and repeating words from a large book abundant in tiny script and void of illustrations.

My father was raised Roman Catholic.

He wears a pendant with Saint Micheal on it around his neck on a rusted, flimsy chain, and has two, ancient rosaries passed down from his mother, both of which were blessed by the Pope, St. John Paul II. He usually worked on Sunday mornings, but on the days when he wasn’t scheduled, he’d join us for service; despite the fact that he’s Catholic, and we attended a Lutheran church.

The first thing I began noticing was that, when the pastor rose his hand to make the sign of the cross and bless the congregation, my father would bow his head and raise his own hand to touch his fingers to his forehead, his sternum, and each of his shoulders. Being a rebellious youngster with a massive amount of respect for the man who raised me, I imitated him. I asked him later why he did that, and he told me that he “didn’t need the pastor to make the cross over him; he was Catholic, and Catholics cross themselves.” I possessed a great desire for independence, so, naturally, I started crossing myself at service.

Over the years, I fell out of religion. I’d never been particularly taken with it since my church was the typical, old, dusty, dismal place filled to the brim with half-dead bible-thumpers and their unwilling, bored grandchildren. My relationship with “God” had always been strained; I struggled to grasp the concept behind an all-powerful puppetmaster looming somewhere unseen above the clouds. I’ve always been a lover of science. The phrase “God is in the gaps” has always resonated within me and held a great deal of truth in my mind. Before people knew the sun was a giant ball of gas that kept the planets in our solar system in check, they thought a man in a golden, flaming chariot rode across the sky every day. Things like that. You know. Mythology.


God was a myth to me.

Still, I’m not necessarily a believer; I consider myself agnostic. Sometimes I’ll be on the brink of being convinced when someone makes the argument that they don’t believe all of this, everything around us, was the result of some freak scientific accident. “Something must have caused it,” they argue. And I agree; we’re the result of a chain-reaction. We’re part of an ongoing chain-reaction. But what started it all? That’s the beauty of science; you’re always looking for answers.

With religion, I feel, you just sort of… accept that the answers lie in some unseen force.

I can’t do that.

Anyway. I’m agnostic. I’m not closed-minded to the existence of a higher power. Paganism has fascinated me for years; I love the idea of living things and inanimate objects in nature having spirits. I had a box in middle school with little bags of herbs and salt and different coloured candles and my three calcite crystals and a stick I found to use as a wand and a little book of a few pagan spells I thought were cool. I’d have little ceremonies in my room at night or take my box out to the woods and sit by the creek and give invocations to Hades and Nyx. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I enjoyed it. I found it fascinating.

It was this accepted idea of giving praise to several figures that connected me to Catholicism.

I inquired as to the specifics of the denomination of Christianity, and my father provided me with heaps of information about Catholic mass, confessionals, and prayers. Mary is the bread and butter of Catholicism. She is really important. I found it fitting; she was important. She gave birth to Jesus. And Joseph helped raise him. Why did we neglect them so much in Lutheranism?

My interests in Catholicism prompted my father to give me one of his mother’s rosaries. It was made in Italy, the chain was thin and the beads were small and black. The crucifix was fragile, the miniature Jesus’ limbs almost as thin as a needle. I dove into learning my prayers; and it wasn’t because I wanted to give praise to Mary, I realised after a while.

I still have my grandmother’s rosary, and I’ve acquired one of my own from Christkindlemarket here in Chicago two years ago. The beads are made of wood, it was made in Jerusalem and one contains dirt from the Holy Land. I’ll go months without touching my rosary, and then say my prayers every night for a week, and then go back to not touching it.

My relationship with my rosary doesn’t symbolise my relationship with any God. Allow me to elaborate:

People refer to meditation as a way to calm the nerves and clear the mind. There is no such thing as quiet in my mind. If I try to meditate and let my thoughts drift away from me, my mind, instead, goes into overdrive. I end up worse off than I was before I tried to relax.

Praying on the rosary requires a sense of focus. There are so many things to remember, and memorisation is something that I’ve excelled at from an early age. I love memorising things. Anything; shop receipts, lengthy chord progressions in solfege, scores upon scores of music… And, apparently, prayers.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee.

Blessed art Thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and in the hour of our death.


The classic Hail Mary; Glory Be; The Apostle’s Creed; The Our Father; Fatima prayer; and the Mysteries. There are different Mysteries to meditate on for every day of the week. Praying the rosary is serious business. There’s a lot that goes into it.

And if I take my time, I can spend forty minutes winding down at the end of the day, just repeating these prayers over and over. It gives me something to focus intently on that I can do by myself in my room that allows me to tune out without disturbing anyone else.

It’s therapeutic. I never thought it would be. But it is.

I identify as a non-practising Catholic. Sort of. My Facebook religion is Catholic, anyway. I’m half-Catholic, half-agnostic. I’m not sure what I am.

Baptised Lutheran, turned agnostic, turned Pagan, confirmed Lutheran, turned agnostic, likes playing with rosaries and praying to the mother of a God I don’t believe in.

I don’t know.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I just prayed on my rosary last night and thought I’d share my lackluster spiritual journey. Hope you enjoyed.

Sam, signing off.


Despite these past couple of months where what’s left of both my fortitude and sanity have been steadily eroded away by the torrents of unwelcome and unrelenting emotion flooding my system, today has actually been rather pleasant.

I’ve been to all my classes and rehearsals the past two days (which is a feat in itself), I’ve spoken with a professor regarding a missing singing exam that he let me make up today (which was a “very strong exam,” in his own words) and a missing quiz he is graciously omitting from my record. I received back my written and aural exams in theory and was elated to find I had earned a solid B on both of them, and I got my literature midterm back to find that I earned a B on that, as well. While I shouldn’t be so elated about Bs, honestly, for me, considering my academic track record and everything else going wrong in my life, I couldn’t be happier.

Now, I’ve registered for my classes next semester and I’ve spent the last couple of hours working on an application.

I swear, I’ve never had so much trouble writing a 300 word blurb about myself.

Anyone who’s read my blog for any length of time likely knows that I am going to a music conservatory. While my eighteen+ years of classical violin training prompted my application to this school and at first set me on the track to obtain my degree in Violin Performance, since the start of my professional training, my interests have since shifted to the academic side of the musical spectrum.

Organology, or the study of musical instruments, has always been a passion of mine. When I was young, I was obsessed with the idea of museum work, curation, conservation, restoration, and at one point, I wanted to be a Luthier; so much so that I submitted an application to The Violin Making School of America in Salt Lake City, Utah, without the approval of my parents. Obviously I didn’t get in, it was a far-fetched dream, but I felt it was worth a shot. Basically, I’ve always been interested in the display, conservation, restoration, curation, construction, and history of musical instruments. And while my performance experience and intimate knowledge are limited to the violin and percussion instruments, I long to learn more about instruments from various families.

While my initial switch from Bachelor of Violin Performance to the much broader title of Bachelor of Musical Arts was prompted by my lack of success in the solo aspect of the performing arts in general rather than an increased interest in anything else, it was brought to my attention by my academic advisor that I could absolutely make a career learning about instruments themselves. I hadn’t heard of the term “organology” until a few months ago. Prior to that, I would have attributed the term to either a specialised branch of human biology, or the study of pipe organs.

Along with information regarding this newly discovered field, my advisor pointed me in the direction of the American Musical Instrument Society (which I had no clue existed); a society that he, as well as a few other faculty members at my university, is a member of. They meet yearly to have conferences on everything to do with musical instruments, and this coming year, their meeting is in Pennsylvania. There is an award that is gifted to various eligible students from around the world who are interested in attending, and the award is meant to cover the financial costs of flights to the location of the meeting as well as housing once arrived. There are several winners each year; and my advisor himself won the award two consecutive years when he was a student in Cincinnati.

He has encouraged me to apply for the award, and applications are due next month. Seeing as the AMIS is very keen on encouraging young, budding Organologists, he seems to think I stand a good chance of winning. I can only hope that he is justified in his confidence, because if I were to win, this could be the start of a promising career path for me. I can’t put into words how excited I am to finally have something that I could potentially excel at, enjoy, AND make enough money to put food on my future table. That is perhaps the biggest downfall of the performing arts: there is no guarantee that you will succeed. It is a competitive field. So is Organology; there is only one school in the United States, in Vermillion, South Dakota, which offers a Master’s Degree in Organology. Other than that, there are schools in Europe. But that’s it. It’s a small, tight-knit field where everyone knows everyone, and while it’s difficult to get into, once you are in, you’re pretty much set.

Which is both comforting, and terrifyingly daunting.

I’m currently working on my application, and I’m attempting to not get overwhelmed. I’m feeling a lot of pressure.

Thankfully, I’m so much better at writing than I am at performing on my violin. Writing is my strong point. It may not show in my blog posts (as I don’t really put a lot of effort into them), but I could swear I am one of the best email-writers at this fucking school, and I always get phenomenal grades on essays in classes. I’ve always been good at it, so I’m somewhat confident that I’ll represent myself well in this miniature essay I have to write for this application.

We’ll see. Only time will tell.

Anyway, that’s all for today. Just wanted to share something positive for a change. More later; and of course I’ll share the results of the contest for the award once I know them.

Until then, my dear readers.

Sam, signing off.


“Are You Okay?”

A question often asked, and rarely answered truthfully. A close relative to “how are you,” “how are things,” and “how’s life?” All of which are often asked in passing, and given a passive answer.

If you were to ask me if I am okay, I would lie. I do lie. I always lie.

“I’m fine.” Standard protocol; because the last thing I want to do is unload my baggage onto someone who only asked, not out of genuine concern for my well-being, but out of courtesy. Because that’s what we do; we blunder through life obligatorily asking how others are without actually caring, while lying to them and ourselves when we say that we are, simply, fine.

I know this isn’t truly the case; if I ask a close friend how they are doing, I want an honest answer. Rarely do I get one, but I want them to know that I do, in fact, care.

By the same token, when I ask a colleague how they are whilst sharing a ride in the lift on our way to class, I expect a general answer, or a fib. I don’t expect for them to gripe about how their pet recently passed away, or how their mother won fifty dollars on a scratch-off and how that helped the family through a financially difficult month.

My best friend asked if I was okay as I hurriedly donned my coat and gloves and hat and made a hasty retried, cigarettes in hand, tearing the door open on my way out of my dorm.

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

I’m not fine. She knows I’m not fine. But this is just how it goes; she asks, I lie, she doesn’t pry, because we both know nothing will come of it.

I was doing well. I was doing so incredibly well, all things considered. I was going to most of my classes, I was getting good grades on my assignments and quizzes and exams, I was looking up and forward, absorbing new information as I explored my burgeoning interests in organology, and I felt like my life was going somewhere. I’d momentarily escaped the stagnation that’s plagued me for what I’m not realising has been the majority of my life.

Then my then-partner broke up with me. Then I spiraled into a black mood and wasn’t able to dig myself out for a few weeks. Then I got sick – dreadfully so – for two weeks.

The only reason I’m even bringing up the fact that my partner and I split up is because I’m almost positive that they will not see this post, even though they follow me; they haven’t been active on this site for months. And I need to write about this somewhere. Simply journalling just doesn’t cut it for me.

I don’t think I would have been quite so affected, if it hadn’t been for the fact that we went from talking vaguely about the future to literally a week later them saying “I can’t date you.” I held my ground and didn’t break down – on the outside. I’d never fancied myself capable of deep emotional connections past familial, even though emotional connections are all I’ve ever really longed for in a relationship. But Christ, these past few months, I’ve never been so torn between frustration and misery. It’s registering as heartbreak. And I don’t like it. I want nothing to do with it.

I’ve prided myself for years on being emotionally distant. I do my best not to get attached, and I’ve only been in love once. I hesitate to even say that now… but what else am I supposed to call it? Dating someone, leaving them, regretting it for four years, and then crawling back to them asking for a second chance even when you live hours apart? I’m not sure what else to call it. Desperation, maybe. Desperation for closure.

I’m just pissed at myself for letting it get to me this much. It shouldn’t get to me this much. Looking back, we weren’t even that serious. Sure, I could have easily envisioned a future with them. There were a few things that in the back of my mind I knew probably wouldn’t end up working out, but seriously, for the right person, you’ll try anything.

I went from feeling like I had nearly everything worked out, to having absolutely no idea what I was doing or where I was going in life.

I just turned 21. And I have never felt so lost.

Don’t misunderstand; not all of this has to do with this relationship ending.  I would never willingly give a matter of the heart that much power over me. It was a major inconvenience, to be truthful, and yes, I was hurt. I’m still hurt. I don’t wish my ex-partner any ill will because of this; I know it’s for the best, for both of us. I completely understand that, I accept it, and I wish them all the best in life. I hope we’ll still be friends for years to come. But Christ, it’s inconvenient. This whole thing. Being lost. It’s inconvenient.

The feeling of not knowing what the future holds is what got to me. Feeling like I have absolutely no idea and no control… that’s what ruined me. I have no idea what’s coming.

And as a result of letting my helplessness get to me, my performance in classes has declined sharply. My attendance has suffered, and once it starts going downhill, there’s no hope for recovery. That’s just how it goes with me. There’s next to no chance that I’ll recover. I fear that I’m going to fail my Literature class, at this rate.

I’ve had so many chances, and I’ve squandered them all. And I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t know how to stop. I seriously, seriously don’t know. And it’s killing me, because I’m digging a fifty-thousand dollar hole every year I waste here at this school, and I’m not making progress. And I fucking hate it. I hate failing. There is nothing that hurts me more than knowing that I’ve failed.

And it’s ridiculous, because I know that if I actually tried, I would be successful. I have the intellectual capacity to blow through every academic milestone that comes my way; but fuck, there are so many mental obstacles I have to conquer before I can even begin rectifying the mistakes I’ve made in school. And I have absolutely no fucking idea where to even start.

These mental barriers are going to be the death of me.